"This paper explores the issues and mechanisms for community participation (ie. self-help) in the design, planning, development, and management of housing. There are several principles underlying this concept: a) "Doing as little as possible" - ie. minimizing government interference and intrusive regulation allows people to design, plan, and manage their own residential environments. b) Bottom-up planning permits individuals to form a community of interest, to determine priorities for living, and to shape their environment in order to meet their own objectives. C) Community participation is significant in its social and political (ie. democratizing) dimensions as well as with respect to its effects on the built environment. Problems facing the community relate not so much to design as to power, control, education, political consciousness-raising, and the desire to change existing practices. d) In certain situations government should do relatively little, beyond facilitation, in order to ensure that housing meets people's needs. Particularly in times of fiscal restraint, planners and government officials should find the notion of self-help attractive. It does, however, require them to relinquish some control over the processes by which the built environment is developed and rehabilitated. These principles and the concept of socio-environmental metamorphosis may be applied to selfbuilding of new housing or the regeneration of existing stock through such initiatives as community architecture or community design.A number of Canadian cases will be cited to illustrate how the concept of self-help has been employed on an individual and collective basis. Barriers to the development of self-help housing and the limitations of community participation will also be explored."